Friday, October 20, 2017

Injured Bald Eagle mends, released near Vienna

Eagle flies
Vienna Eagle released by Free Again director Beverly Shofstall.

An injured Bald Eagle found October 16, 2014, on the Dallas and Charlene Harner Farm on Old Cypress Road near Vienna was released Saturday afternoon after two months of care and rehabilitation.

When the Harner family found the eagle, unable to fly, they contacted a Federal game warden that put them in touch with a Carterville, IL, organization that specializes in wild animal rehabilitation.

Free Again, a non-profit organization located north of Carterville, captured the eagle and nursed it back to health before releasing it at the same location it was found. The eagle had a broken bone in its wing.

Beverly Shofstall, director of Free Again, said, “We release wild animals in the same location that we find them because they are familiar with the environment.”

“This eagle is approximately 5-years old,” Shofstall said. “And, 5-year old Bald Eagle typically weigh 12-16 pounds.”

“Eagle bones are mostly hollow, like a straw, making them vulnerable to breakage,” she noted.

“This has been a big year with eagles for us. We’ve had five Bald Eagles this year.

“We have one from Olive Branch now that will require much longer care because of his injuries.”

Bald Eagles, once nearly extinct in the U.S., have made a significant comeback in the last 20-25 years. They are primarily fish eaters, but will eat higher protein meats such as venison. A Bald Eagle will consume 12-16 ounces of food a day.

“We are not able to save all the Bald Eagles we get,” Shofstall explains. “Dead eagles are collected and shipped to Native American Tribes. They use the feathers and other parts of the eagle in their spiritual rituals.”

According to Shofstall, Free Again is the only organization in Southern Illinois authorized to confine all species of wild animals during care and rehabilitation. They care for anything animal injured, from songbirds to eagles, turtles to coyotes.

Free Again relies entirely on donations, a few small fund-raisers and reliable volunteers.

There are anywhere from 15-25 volunteers that regularly help Shofstall. She said she could always use more funds and volunteers, whether for a day a month or a few hours each day.

If you would like to volunteer or help in anyway at Free Again, contact Beverly Shofstall at 618-988-1067.

To learn more about Free Again visit www.freeagaininc.org

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